The holidays are upon us, and we all know what that means: sweets and treats, everywhere we look. So, how do you stick to your healthy lifestyle when there’s pumpkin pie beckoning from the counter or fragrant, fresh-baked cookies rising in the oven?
Don’t worry – we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to stay healthy this holiday season.
Eat your protein first. For most of us, Thanksgiving dinner will be the first true test of our willpower. Personally, avoiding buttery rolls, potato salad, and stuffing sounds like punishment. So – don’t avoid it!
Here’s what to do: serve yourself a plate of protein and veggies first – ham, turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes; all the healthy goodness you’d normally eat. Once you’ve finished, indulge in a spoonful of each of the less-healthy options such as baked potato, green bean casserole, rice, and stuffing. Because you’ve already filled up on protein and veggies, you’ll find you’re a lot less hungry for the less-than-healthy goodies.
Utilize substitutes. What’s the key ingredient in most of the baked goods that seem to be in never-ending supply during the holidays? Flour, and probably sugar, too.
The good news is that with the rise of fitness and healthy lifestyle cultures, finding substitutes for these ingredients is easier than ever! Instead of regular flour, try a healthier option like coconut or almond flour. These have less carbs and less refined sugars but still taste great in your baked goods. As for sugar, the options are endless when it comes to substitutions. You have granulated varieties like Splenda, Swerve, monk fruit, and stevia, among many others. Some natural options are agave, honey, and pure maple syrup.
Making pancakes for breakfast? Use almond flour and cream in exchange for bleached flour and milk. Making chocolate chip cookies? Use dark chocolate chips and coconut flour. There’s a substitute for just about any traditional ingredient!
Also, make time for you. You probably can’t count on one hand the number of events you have lined up for the holiday season – that’s great! The holidays are a time for socializing, getting everyone together, and most importantly, taking a break from your normal grind.
But if you can’t make it to the gym for your regular workout routine, be sure to still take time for your health. Enjoy short walks around the block to check out the Christmas lights, block out 20-30 minutes to do some yoga, or talk the kids into playing a game of catch before guests arrive.
Staying healthy during the holidays is tough, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Be sure to enjoy – but not overindulge!
Kristina Duran is a freelance writer, English major, and supermom to her ten-year-old daughter